Fronthaul Compression and Precoding Design for C-RANs Over Ergodic Fading Channels

Jinkyu Kang, Osvaldo Simeone, Joonhyuk Kang, Shlomo Shamai

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38 Scopus citations


This paper investigates the joint design of fronthaul compression and precoding for the downlink of cloud radio access networks (C-RANs). In a C-RAN, a central unit (CU) controls a cluster of radio units (RUs) through low-latency fronthaul links. Most previous works on the design of fronthaul compression and precoding assume constant channels and instantaneous channel state information (CSI) at the CU. This paper, in contrast, concentrates on a more practical scenario with block-ergodic channels and considers either instantaneous or stochastic CSI at the CU. Moreover, the analysis encompasses two types of CU-RU functional splits at the physical layer, which we refer to as compression-after-precoding (CAP) and compression-before-precoding (CBP). With the CAP approach, which is the standard C-RAN solution, all baseband processing is done at the CU. With the CBP scheme, channel encoding and precoding are instead performed at the RUs: The CU does not perform precoding but rather forwards separately the information messages of a subset of mobile stations (MSs) along with the compressed precoding matrices to each RU. Optimization algorithms over fronthaul compression and precoding for both CAP and CBP are proposed, which are based on a stochastic successive upper bound minimization (SSUM) approach. Numerical results yield insights into the optimal RU-CU functional split for C-RANs. As a general conclusion, the relative advantages of the two functional splits depend on the interplay between the enhanced interference management abilities of CAP, particularly for dense networks, and the lower fronthaul requirements of CBP in terms of precoding information overhead, particularly for large coherence periods and with stochastic, rather than instantaneous, CSI.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number7185432
Pages (from-to)5022-5032
Number of pages11
JournalIEEE Transactions on Vehicular Technology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Automotive Engineering


  • Cloud-radio access networks (C-RAN)
  • fronthaul compression
  • multiple-input multiple-output (MIMO)
  • precoding
  • stochastic channel state information (CSI)


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